Foraging in Virginia
Felix Octavius Carr Darley 1822-1888
Watercolor on paper
Sight size: 16 1/2″h x 24″w
“More than any other single talent, F.O.C. Darley was responsible for the growth of illustration in early America. An article in the bulletin of the American Art Union in August 1851, cites his work as “combining a recognizably sophisticated American point of view with an exceptionally sophisticated style of drawing.” The melding of the American viewpoint and his personal style made him the prototype for American illustrators to follow. According to the exhibition catalogue of the 1978 Darley exhibition at the Delaware Art Museum: “Because of his popularity and enormous productivity, Darley’s illustrations were the first works of art many Americans experienced.” And Henry Pitz, writing in 200 Years of American Illustration, states: “Darley had no tradition of American illustration behind him. He was himself beginning its creation.”” (Illustrator’s Hall of Fame Induction, Fred Taraba Director Illustration House, Inc.)
Felix Darley was sought after as an illustrator for many of the best known authors of his day, including James Fennimore Cooper, Charles Dickens, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Washington Irving, Harriet Beecher Stowe and others.
This painting depicts a farm family gathering the harvest by hand, in an effort to extol rural family labor as virtuous and noble, and harkening back to Jeffersonian republican ideals.